In today’s digital age, every enterprise needs a website. It’s a vital online hub for your customers to get in touch and stay up to date with your business. But for the novice, it can seem daunting. Think of web development and you might think of rows and rows of unintelligible code on a black screen. But with the explosion of affordable online tools in the past few years, building and growing your own website has never been easier. By the end of this article, you will understand the basics of setting up your first website!
The first aspect that you should think about is your hosting. In layman’s terms, hosting refers to where all the data for your website is stored. This is either self-hosted or hosted by a third party.
Self-hosting involves you creating your website using a web builder of your choice, and then paying for a dedicated hosting service to store it. While nonprofit organisations can often find free hosting services, for businesses the costs could grow into the hundreds. Self-hosting offers greater flexibility and customisation options. You need to keep in mind that it will require more financial and time expenditure on your part.
If your site is hosted, a third-party service offers everything you need to build and host your website. From building it to hosting it, they offer all you need, as well as software updates. It’s low cost and requires a comparatively low effort on your part. More experienced developers would not choose this option as it limits their creativity. However, as a novice to the web building world, I recommend going with hosted. It will give you a lot less hassle, so you can focus on your business.
Content management systems
Think of web developers, and you might think of someone sitting in front of a screen full of code. This is an intimidating image if you’re not a tech wizard. But fear not! Building and editing your website doesn’t need to be difficult. This is where content management systems or CMS for short, come in.
A CMS is an interface that lets you edit your website from the domain itself. It provides you with an easy-to-use dashboard that is intuitive enough for virtually anyone to use. As a novice, a CMS is vital for you to create your first website. It’ll cut out any fiddly technical aspects, and you’ll learn a great deal from using the interface. You will also start to get the feel for how a website is built.
When it comes to choosing a CMS, some free options are available. But if you have the money and you feel confident enough to try your hand at a paid service, it’s worth looking into. It all depends on your budget, your experience, and what you aim to achieve.
Website theme and design
When it comes to your first website, looks aren’t everything, but they’re certainly important. You should pay close attention to your design. The two key qualities you need to aim for are functionality and professionalism.
To achieve this, stay away from loud, cluttered layouts. Minimalism is the name of the game, and less is more. Avoid a visually loud design, and stick to one or possibly two images on your homepage. Uber is a good example of a good homepage design.
Plenty of negative space and a single featured image makes for an easily navigable site that looks professional. And just like Uber, make sure your logo is placed prominently on each page.
While you can certainly employ a designer to create a design specifically for your website, there are plenty of free or low-cost designs available. Themeforest is particularly popular for this, although Mojo Themes comes a close second.
Another thing to bear in mind is your website’s responsiveness. This refers to how easy it is to navigate using a variety of devices, such as mobiles or tablets. Check your theme to make sure it has built-in responsiveness, or test it yourself before your website goes live.
Perhaps the most crucial part of your first website is getting it seen. That means formulating a solid marketing strategy. There are a plethora of channels for you to market your website, but don’t be daunted by it: it’s a boon rather than a burden.
An obvious one that you’ll know about is social media. If you haven’t already, it’s important that you create an online presence across a variety of social channels. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all provide you with a number of ways to connect your business and your followers. Virtually all of them come with options for paid ads too, which can be an inexpensive way of boosting your site’s traffic.
Email marketing too should form an important part of your marketing strategy. Build your email list by creating onsite lightbox pop-ups to encourage visitors to subscribe, or hold a webinar that will draw in the crowds with an email capture opt-in page.
Finally, start creating content. Content marketing is the marketing strategy of the moment, and the results don’t lie. 70% of consumers prefer to research a company through an article than an advertisement! Regularly generating useful, detailed content that your customers will benefit from will increase your site’s traffic. So, what are you waiting for? Get writing!
A website forms an important part of any business strategy, but it doesn’t need to be intimidating. There’s a plethora of tools and resources available online that make setting up your own first website simple. Do your research and play around with your CMS. You’ll soon have a slick, professional website for your startup in no time.